“She displayed an ‘other’ femininity, both carnal and strong.”

An incredible review of my Achillia performance at Tempting Failure 2013 by Natalie Raven for Total Theatre magazine.

Traumata’s Achillia was a set-time piece, performed in the Isolation Block, an empty, whitewashed room with flaky floors and peeling paint. A circle of spilt milk gently trickled across the dirty floor. It glistened poetically in artificial light. The female performer entered, half clothed in a long white gown which trailed the floor. Scar tissue on the performer’s exposed upper torso bore the marks of performances past; a body in trauma which lived to tell the tale. Milk began to bleed upwards into the fabric as faint drops of crimson blood spotted the robe, hinting at an underlying injury.

Slowly, and with conviction, she bound her wrists. The skirt was gradually lifted to expose needles which pierced her skin above each knee. After mental preparation, the performer walked to her left. She squatted, back straight against the wall in a seated position, arms above the head. The position was held for an extended period, during which the physical manifestations of a body struggling against exhaustion begun to take form. Skin reddened, thighs shook, face contorted; signals of a body in pain, desperate to resist its own weakness.

I was transfixed. I felt an almost sadistic pleasure in watching her muscles begin to weaken and shake, violently. Internally, I screamed over and over for her to continue: ‘don’t give up!’ I longed for her to win the battle against herself. Inevitably, she slumped to the floor having lost. Standing up, she walked to the centre of the space, stood within the milk once more and removed a needle. Blood tickled down the leg and swirled itself into the white liquid at her feet; a moment of visual pleasure, abject horror and corporeal transgression.

For me, Traumata’s performance was about the feminine struggle against a history of patriarchal tradition and virtue. I saw the performer as an ideological feminine figure, both maternal and virtuous. Draping herself in white linen and surrounding herself with milk, she was both Mother and Virgin. What I enjoyed the most about this performance was the complete deconstruction of these socially fashioned feminine roles. She displayed an ‘other’ femininity, both carnal and strong.

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